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Old 03-21-2017, 08:19 AM
Location: Williamsburg, VA
1,679 posts, read 766,610 times
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These questions come from my recent experiences looking for a listing agent. I couldn't believe how many people we had to interview, all of whom adamantly insisted that we needed to make expensive decorating changes to appeal to Millennials.

The funny thing is we interviewed people we thought would be very different, and in some ways they were. But all seemed to insist on marketing to Millennials and said things like "this group in particular has no vision and won't even look at your house unless they see listing photos with all these decorating changes."

We are talking about major changes including removing giant bathroom mirrors and builder grade vanities, removing all carpet, everything is painted grey, all hardwood is stained a dark color, etc. Surprisingly, they don't seem to think people care that much about roof or HVAC, but putting in a new trendy back splash is urgent. Some of the realtors were apologetic, some were pushy, some were very logical--but all were very insistent that making such renovations is a trend that cannot be ignored.

We went along with some of it (the carpet, mirror and vanity, not with the other changes), and we'll just have to see if Millennials will look at our place or not. Or if we sell it to someone from another age group. I'm trying to look at it as a scientific experiment to see if what they say is true.

Our listing realtor thinks we will be in for an unhappy surprise and is really pushing for us to do more. Not going to happen until we see how things go.

But it does make think this would be an interesting topic for this forum:

Is there a difference between what do Millennials say they want vs. what Millennials realistically buy? Also, are they really the only group worth marketing to?
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:27 AM
Location: Williamsburg, VA
1,679 posts, read 766,610 times
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My 2 cents:

I'm no expert but I do know some younger people who are buying houses. And I've read posts on this forum.

It seems to me a lot of first time buyers might wish for a house done up in the newest finishes, but what they really buy is a house they can afford. You're better off having the lowest priced house in the neighborhood instead of the house with the most bells and whistles. But maybe I'm wrong. Also, when they get realistic about home buying they choose things like a yard for kids to play in, good schools, location, all the things people have always chosen.

For example, if one house in a neighborhood has a big yard and dated trim, and another house has a tiny yard and the newest trend in trims, they'll choose the house with the big yard.

It also seems to me that people from all sorts of age groups buy homes in my area. On my street, we also get buyers from other countries who may have different needs they find important. The family down the street who moved from Germany seemed to think the yard with gardening space was the big thing.

FWIW, I live in northern VA, where we have a lot of people coming here for government work, school, or to work in research facilities. So our buying pool may be a little more international than most. Still, I don't think I really need to make all those renovations to get people to look at the house. That just seems weird to me. But maybe I'll be in for a surprise.
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:45 AM
Location: St. Louis, MO
4,009 posts, read 5,171,833 times
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For me, it depends on which stage of life the Millennials are in.

My husband and I were 24 and 28 when we bought our house a few years back. We were planning on starting a family but hadn't yet (since then, I had 3 babies in 2 years!).

When we bought our house, we accepted that it needed paint, some new flooring, a new kitchen and some other updates. We were happy to take all of that on board because the backyard was great, the house otherwise fit our requirements, and the price was right.

Fast forward a few years and we have a 1 year old, 2 year old and 3 year old and all of the updates we planned are only on a need-to-do basis. If I were to go house hunting tomorrow, I would choose a house with almost nothing to do.

I would want all hardwood floors, a new kitchen, new bathrooms, white/offwhite paint throughout, all new systems- pretty much a turn key property.

While my husband and I would have the time, energy and money to update a home pre-kids, once kids are in the picture it's less of a reality.

I think other millenials in the family planning stages (or with young families) are likely in the same boat.
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:54 AM
Location: Williamsburg, VA
1,679 posts, read 766,610 times
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Originally Posted by glamatomic View Post
While my husband and I would have the time, energy and money to update a home pre-kids, once kids are in the picture it's less of a reality.

I think other millenials in the family planning stages (or with young families) are likely in the same boat.
I like this explanation better than the "no vision" one that I kept hearing. It's hard to believe people seriously looking for a home won't look at something that isn't painted grey because they can't imagine what it would look like if they painted it themselves. Lack of time makes sense, though.

I come from a different generation, clearly. Back in the day it was routine to change things after you moved into a house. Or, if you didn't want to bother with changing it you simply chose to see things like wallpaper, paint color, cabinets, flooring, etc. as being part of a house's personality. I often bought homes with things I never took down. One house had a shelf for the former owner's train set. It stayed up for 15 years and nobody ever used it except the cat. LOL look at me sounding like an old geezer. Next I'll be saying "and we used to walk to school. Uphill. Both ways."

Last edited by Piney Creek; 03-21-2017 at 09:19 AM..
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:02 AM
8,711 posts, read 8,913,183 times
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I guess I'm one of the older millennials. I'm 36, so I barely squeak in as one, so perhaps not all the typical Millennial stereotypes apply to me.

I bought a house based on location, commute, yard size, off-street parking ability, garage space, storage, etc etc.

Reality was it was a 1960's ranch with some dated features, and most rooms had painted over wallpaper. We bought the house, and moved in swinging a hammer. I did pretty much all the work myself. Added sliding doors, took down walls, replaced trim and casings, and ripping down the wallpaper and painting the walls myself...and yes some are gray. If I never have to scrape off wallpaper glue again, i'll be a happy man.

Getting the work down with kids is tricky, as it really leaves you with zero free time...but I see the light at the end of the tunnel after a solid year of going through each room. House looks completely different now, and happy to say I did it all myself...although I'm looking forward to a summer of lounging now

Last edited by BostonMike7; 03-21-2017 at 09:10 AM..
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:06 AM
Location: Boise, ID
494 posts, read 333,512 times
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I have limited experience with millennials and home buying. My step son just bought a house and he is mid 20's. The house sat on the market for 8 months in a hot market. Sellers took it off the market, laid new flooring, took down all the wallpaper, and put inexpensive granite on the existing cabinets. The house had multiple offers before even reentering the market. I don't know if that is unique to millennials though. Seems nobody wants to take down wall paper and that house had a lot of wallpaper.

When we sold our house, none of the realtors we interviewed mentioned millennials in particular.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:21 AM
Location: Williamsburg, VA
1,679 posts, read 766,610 times
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Originally Posted by BostonMike7 View Post
House looks completely different now, and happy to say I did it all myself...although I'm looking forward to a summer of lounging now
FWIW, some of my proudest moments in life came from doing work on my house myself. Very glad to hear people still do this, even in these busy busy times. Congratulations and you must feel very proud!
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:58 AM
Location: Maryland
95 posts, read 62,761 times
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I guess I am a millenial although I've never thought about it. I will be 33 this year. And I did just buy a house last September. My husband and I have done TONS of renovations on our own. We finished our own basement in our last house, completely gutted our condo and re-did that, so I wasn't afraid of a little work when buying our new house. The problem is time. I have a 4 year old, an almost 2-year old, a full-time job and a side job. It is VERY hard to get projects done around the house now. Gone are the days we could work on the house in the evenings and weekends. If i had to do it over again, I may have bought a house that didn't need much work, just because I don't have time.

It's not an issue of "no vision" though. I guess I find that a little insulting, to be honest! (Not you OP, the realtors who said that).
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Old 03-21-2017, 10:07 AM
Location: Metro Detroit
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As a Millennial who recently bought a house, let me tell you what I was really concerned about:
  1. House will not require expensive repairs next month.
  2. House doesn't immediately require extensive plumping or electrical updates.
  3. House is in a solid neighborhood with good schools where I can walk to restaurants, shops, and parks.
  4. House is on the lower-end of price per square foot for the zip-code.
  5. Neighbors don't seem sketchy.

That's pretty much it. Here are some things I didn't give two-craps about:
  1. Size/grade/placement/whatever of vanity. It's a mirror. It reflects light regardless of size.
  2. Type/color/grain/etc. of carpet. Honestly, I don't even want carpet. Refinish the wood floor if you're going to do anything.
  3. Paint color. We're not invalids. We can paint.
  4. What types of counter tops and/or tile flooring you installed to make the house pretty, and how expensive it is.
  5. Curb appeal. Seriously. I really couldn't care less what mature ficus tree you put out front. Just mow the lawn and rake the leaves, because I don't enough money to care about professional landscaping and a new faux-brick facade.

The reason is that, like most millennials, I don't have a ton of net worth and likely won't for many, many years. I am far more concerned about my ability to afford the house than the color and/or grain in the backsplash or whatever mumbo-jumbo some interior designer learned about at the 7th semiannual spend-lots-of-money-on-needless-things interior design conference in some overpriced city that 95% of us have little desire to ever own a house in, despite what Buzzfeed says. I'm wayyy more concerned about not having to spend $7,500 on a roof than I am about the 1980's kitchen that'll cost $7,500 to bring up to modern aesthetic preferences, because a leaky roof has to be fixed today. A kitchen can be upgraded as budget allows. I can change the carpet whenever I want, or not, quite frankly shag carpet works in a pinch, but I can't choose for my house to be in a different neighborhood.

I guess my point is that we're not all some TV sitcom hipster stereotype. Most of us are just regular, sensible people who have been economically disadvantaged by a stagnant economy, student loans, a need to be thinking about how to fund our own retirements from the day after we get out of school, and out of control healthcare costs. The reason we're not buying houses isn't because the feng shui doesn't fit our expensive lifestyles, it's more like the expensive cost of real estate doesn't fit our pitiful paychecks. If you want to make a bunch of money on your exurban McMansion, you're going to have to market it to a demographic with more money (the 45+ crowd). If you want to attract lots of younger buyers, you're going to need to be in a bungalow set in a gentrified inner-ring suburb/urban-neighborhood, and they're going to be way more concerned if the house is in good condition than if its swank af, amirite?
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Old 03-21-2017, 10:10 AM
Location: Central IL
13,357 posts, read 7,121,412 times
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I thought all Millennials were unemployed with huge student loans and living with their parents? So yeah, why market to them if they have no money to spend. So, believe what you will, but marketers go where the money is.
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